We often get asked by patients about whether gene therapy will ever provide a 'cure' for baldness. At present, The Belgravia Centre has achieved great results when regrowing thinning hair, but as with all hair loss treatments, completely bald patches of scalp cannot be re-stimulated to produce hair, the only option then being a hair transplant.
Below we sum up the advancements so far, and look at how close science is getting to a licensed gene therapy cure for hair loss.
: Scientists at Columbia University discover 'hairless' gene responsible for human baldness, specifically for Alopecia Universalis, a condition which causes complete hair loss.
2007: At the University of Pennsylvania, scientists manage to regenerate healthy hair follicles in adult mice, counteracting the long held belief that mammals are born with a limited amount of hair follicles that cannot be increased. The regrowth is achieved with a group of genes that are switched off after the embryo stage of development, but which can be re-activated, making stem cells go to a wound and form new hair follicles. Scientists also discover that injecting a protein called Wnt onto the patch of damaged skin doubles the amount of hair follicles formed.
2012: The European Commission approves the use of gene therapy Glybera to treat the rare genetic disease lipoprotein lipase deficiency. This is the first regulatory approval of a gene therapy drug in the Western world.
Whilst this approval paves the way for gene therapy to be used in other areas of medicine, the field has been plagued with problems during its clinical trials. Patients have gone on to develop leukemia, and in one case in America a teenager died.
So, it would seem that whilst the results of studies over the past years are both fascinating and encouraging in the fight against hair loss, the risks of gene therapy mean that new medicines will be subject to intense scrutiny by medical licensing committees. Whilst the science behind gene therapy for hair loss is certainly plausible, the realisation of gene therapy for those suffering from hair loss in the Western world could be a long way off.
The Belgravia Centre is a world-renowned group of a hair loss clinic in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation from anywhere in the world for home-use treatment.
View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world's largest gallery of hair growth photos and demonstrates the level of success that so many of Belgravia's patients achieve.